Anything but the usual faux-divey BKNY beer bar – the design concept here could best be described as Corbusier goes rustic. Stark, pale concrete floors are peppered with reclaimed wood tables and stools, as well as pinball machines, and a skylight lets in the Brooklyn rays. It all extends to a similarly styled patio where craft beer geeks mix with canine lovers – indeed, you can bring Fluffy and Fido.
Chef Robert Newton of shuttered Seersucker gets more down and dirty with Wilma Jean. But no faux Arkansas dive aesthetics here – the room is cheery and mod, with stark white tables, pendant lamps and chalkboards menus. The eats are almost cloyingly unpretentious, fried chicken (even in the burritos), double burgers, mac & cheese – there”s even a online casino fried bologna sandwich, for those not sporting a bypass scar. Daily happy hour makes for good early evening bar scene. For maximum effect, get a chicken bucket for take away.
This designy bar feels more like it could be in Milano, with its sharp lines, elegant black tables and black leather banquettes. Kitchen turns out simple Italian classics, carbonara, bucatini pesto, excellent pizzas – and the wine list does well by the mother country. Perfect for a sophisticated stopoff before catching your fave indie heroes at Bell House.
It looks like a restaurant in Brooklyn, but acts much more ambitiously. Indeed, the menu features such wonders as cultured butter, duck rillettes with puffed rye, borsa vuota pasta and pork jowl with late harvest aioli. Cocktails rise to the culinary occasion. Distressed wood, pressed tin ceiling and wool capped bartenders remind that you’re in Gowanus.
Peter Endriss (the Runner) of Per Se and Chris Pizzulli (the Stone) of Blue Ribbon Brasserie combine on a bakery and restaurant along the Gowanus. Pretty place runs through three stories. Breakfast is a bread and pastry fest, with a special nod to the almond croissant, while there are tasty sandwiches and salads for lunch. Dinner sees a full menu of pastas plus meats like braised lamb with Moroccan spices. The design manages to be both warm and modern, with crisp lines, and plenty of natural light.
Union Pool crew runs this converted printing house turned lively music venue. Indie up and comers one night, alt big shots (Deerhof, Mudhoney) the next. The huge performance room is decked with chandeliers, arched wooden ceilings, and assorted Americana, and there’s a roomy front barroom for those who just want to down local brews and flirt with rocker types.
Smith Street’s cozy backwoods farmhouse. It’s full-bore rustic from the wood-paneled façade to the whitewashed planks inside to the live fireplace crackling in back. Gowanus locals sip from short, smart list highlighted by obscure French and Italian vintages. Cheese and charcuterie plates, panini, Swiss-tastic Fondue Tuesdays. Calls itself a wine house, not bar, but otherwise low-key scene keeps the pretense in check.
High style (at least for Gowanus) bar in a converted stable, the style if sort of Scandinavian rustic – with brick walls raw woods, and lots of artful “distressing.” Rocker referencing cocktails like the Electric Funeral and Mystery Train (they like Jim Jarmusch here) are the focus. But the burgers are aces and its hard to pass up a Stinky Brooklyn Meat & Cheese Board. The usual BKNY suspects gather on the patio in summer.